Canada celebrates historic TLE settlement agreement with Sturgeon Lake First Nation and province of Saskatchewan



    STURGEON LAKE FIRST NATION, SK, June 19 /CNW Telbec/ - At a ceremony
today, the Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern
Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, Chief
Wesley Daniels of the Sturgeon Lake First Nation and the Honourable Lon
Borgerson, Saskatchewan Minister of Regional Economic and Co-operative
Development on behalf of the Honourable Maynard Sonntag, Saskatchewan Minister
of First Nations and Métis Relations, signed a ceremonial document
acknowledging a Treaty Land Entitlement (TLE) Settlement Agreement.
    After three years of tripartite negotiations and a successful First
Nation ratification vote, this agreement provides the First Nation with a
settlement amount of approximately $10.4 million for an outstanding TLE
shortfall as well as the entitlement to purchase land.  In addition, Canada
will provide $620,501 for negotiation, ratification and acquisition costs.
    "This settlement shows that when all the parties - Canada, the First
Nation and the Province - are committed, decisive success at the negotiation
table is possible," said Minister Prentice.  "This settlement will bring
economic benefits to the Sturgeon Lake First Nation and local communities as
well as providing certainty for government, industry and non-Aboriginal
Canadians."
    Settling this claim enables the First Nation to invest directly in the
province's economy through the purchase of land and through future economic
development opportunities.  Under the Agreement, Sturgeon Lake First Nation is
entitled to purchase up to 38,971 acres (15,588 hectares) of land, on a
willing-seller/willing-buyer basis, to convert to reserve status.
    Chief Wesley Daniels stated that: "This is indeed a historic occasion for
our people of the Sturgeon Lake First Nation.  The settling of this Treaty
Land Entitlement provides hope to our people that there is a spirit of
continuity - the continuity of a people from the first Chief and leadership
that signed the Treaty, to our ancestors and Elders who got us here, and
forward to our children and grandchildren as well as to future generations who
have the most to benefit from this agreement.  We acknowledge the efforts of
the negotiators, the Federal Minister of Indian Affairs Jim Prentice, the
Provincial Minister Maynard Sonntag, and the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian
Nations Chief Lawrence Joseph on this special day."
    "The successful negotiation of this agreement is a significant
achievement for Sturgeon Lake First Nation, Saskatchewan and Canada," Minister
Lon Borgerson said. "In addition to satisfying the Province's obligation to
help Canada fulfill outstanding TLEs, this settlement charts a path to greater
economic and social development opportunities for the First Nation and its
members and contributes to Saskatchewan's goal of building brighter futures
for individuals, families and communities."
    Negotiations between Canada, Saskatchewan and the First Nation began in
June 2004, and a final agreement has now been achieved. The membership of the
Sturgeon Lake First Nation ratified the agreement on January 25, 2007. 92% of
those members who voted, voted to accept the settlement.
    The Sturgeon Lake First Nation is located approximately 50 kilometres
northwest of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. In 1876, Canada and several First
Nations in Saskatchewan and Alberta, including Sturgeon Lake First Nation,
entered into Treaty 6, which formed the basis for this claim.

    There are about 2,300 registered members of the Sturgeon Lake First
Nation.

    This release, and a fact sheet, are also available on the Internet at
www.inac.gc.ca and http://www.gov.sk.ca

    
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                                 Fact Sheet
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               STURGEON LAKE TREATY LAND ENTITLEMENT SETTLEMENT

    Background
    ----------

    The Sturgeon Lake First Nation is located approximately 50 kilometres
northwest of Prince Albert. In 1876, Canada and several First Nations in
Saskatchewan and Alberta - including the Sturgeon Lake First Nation - entered
into Treaty Six. The Treaty stated that the Crown would set aside reserves,
the size of which was not to exceed one square mile (2.59 square kilometres)
per family of five (128 acres [51.2 hectares] per person).

    History of the Claim
    --------------------

    In 1996, the Sturgeon Lake First Nation submitted a Treaty Land
Entitlement (TLE) claim alleging that the First Nation did not receive the
amount of reserve land to which it was entitled according to Treaty Six.
    In March 2004 the Government of Canada accepted, for the purpose of
negotiation, and on a without prejudice basis, that Sturgeon Lake First Nation
had sufficiently established that Canada breached a lawful obligation to the
Sturgeon Lake First Nation in that there is an outstanding Treaty Land
Entitlement (TLE) shortfall.
    TLE claims are intended to settle the land debt owed to those First
Nations that did not receive all the land to which they were entitled under
historical treaties.
    Tripartite negotiations among Canada, Saskatchewan and the Sturgeon Lake
First Nation commenced in June 2004 and were facilitated by the Indian
Specific Claims Commission. It was agreed by all parties that the terms of the
1992 Saskatchewan TLE Framework Agreement would form the basis for the
settlement agreement.
    The TLE Framework Agreement, dated September 22, 1992, provided 25
Saskatchewan First Nations with $440 million over 12 years to purchase land,
mineral rights and improvements, including buildings and structures affixed to
the lands. Four other Saskatchewan First Nations have signed TLE Agreements
since 1992 and received just over $99 million in compensation.

    Overview of the Settlement
    --------------------------

    Sturgeon Lake First Nation held a ratification vote on January 25, 2007-
55% of the eligible voters participated in the vote, and of those, 92% voted
to accept the settlement.
    Under the settlement, Sturgeon Lake First Nation is entitled to purchase
up to 38,971 acres (15,588 hectares) of land on a willing seller/willing buyer
basis to be set apart as a reserve. The First Nation will receive a total of
approximately $11 million for an equity payment, a mineral payment; and
negotiation, ratification and acquisition costs.
    Canada and Saskatchewan will also provide tax loss compensation to rural
municipalities and school divisions in such rural municipalities where taxable
land is set apart as reserve under the settlement.
    Settlement of this claim will enable the Sturgeon Lake First Nation to
invest directly in Saskatchewan's economy through the purchase of land and
pursuit of economic development opportunities. It will also help clarify land
and resource ownership, and create a positive and stable investment climate
for the First Nation and surrounding communities.
    




For further information:

For further information: Minister's Prentice's Office: Deirdra
McCracken, Press Secretary, Office of the Honourable Jim Prentice, (819)
997-0002; INAC Media Relations: (819) 953-1160; Province of Saskatchewan:
Shelley Fayant, (306) 798-4071; Sturgeon Lake First Nation: Earl Ermine, (306)
922-8127; Jack Long, (306) 961-4999

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